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  • CHAPTER 7

  • Mr. Bennet's property consisted almost entirely in an estate of two thousand a

  • year, which, unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of

  • heirs male, on a distant relation; and

  • their mother's fortune, though ample for her situation in life, could but ill supply

  • the deficiency of his. Her father had been an attorney in Meryton,

  • and had left her four thousand pounds.

  • She had a sister married to a Mr. Phillips, who had been a clerk to their father and

  • succeeded him in the business, and a brother settled in London in a respectable

  • line of trade.

  • The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance

  • for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week,

  • to pay their duty to their aunt and to a milliner's shop just over the way.

  • The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in

  • these attentions; their minds were more vacant than their sisters', and when

  • nothing better offered, a walk to Meryton

  • was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening;

  • and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to

  • learn some from their aunt.

  • At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent

  • arrival of a militia regiment in the neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole

  • winter, and Meryton was the headquarters.

  • Their visits to Mrs. Phillips were now productive of the most interesting

  • intelligence.

  • Every day added something to their knowledge of the officers' names and

  • connections.

  • Their lodgings were not long a secret, and at length they began to know the officers

  • themselves.

  • Mr. Phillips visited them all, and this opened to his nieces a store of felicity

  • unknown before.

  • They could talk of nothing but officers; and Mr. Bingley's large fortune, the

  • mention of which gave animation to their mother, was worthless in their eyes when

  • opposed to the regimentals of an ensign.

  • After listening one morning to their effusions on this subject, Mr. Bennet

  • coolly observed:

  • "From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest

  • girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now

  • convinced."

  • Catherine was disconcerted, and made no answer; but Lydia, with perfect

  • indifference, continued to express her admiration of Captain Carter, and her hope

  • of seeing him in the course of the day, as he was going the next morning to London.

  • "I am astonished, my dear," said Mrs. Bennet, "that you should be so ready to

  • think your own children silly.

  • If I wished to think slightingly of anybody's children, it should not be of my

  • own, however." "If my children are silly, I must hope to

  • be always sensible of it."

  • "Yes--but as it happens, they are all of them very clever."

  • "This is the only point, I flatter myself, on which we do not agree.

  • I had hoped that our sentiments coincided in every particular, but I must so far

  • differ from you as to think our two youngest daughters uncommonly foolish."

  • "My dear Mr. Bennet, you must not expect such girls to have the sense of their

  • father and mother.

  • When they get to our age, I dare say they will not think about officers any more than

  • we do.

  • I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well--and, indeed, so I do

  • still at my heart; and if a smart young colonel, with five or six thousand a year,

  • should want one of my girls I shall not say

  • nay to him; and I thought Colonel Forster looked very becoming the other night at Sir

  • William's in his regimentals."

  • "Mamma," cried Lydia, "my aunt says that Colonel Forster and Captain Carter do not

  • go so often to Miss Watson's as they did when they first came; she sees them now

  • very often standing in Clarke's library."

  • Mrs. Bennet was prevented replying by the entrance of the footman with a note for

  • Miss Bennet; it came from Netherfield, and the servant waited for an answer.

  • Mrs. Bennet's eyes sparkled with pleasure, and she was eagerly calling out, while her

  • daughter read, "Well, Jane, who is it from?

  • What is it about?

  • What does he say? Well, Jane, make haste and tell us; make

  • haste, my love." "It is from Miss Bingley," said Jane, and

  • then read it aloud.

  • "MY DEAR FRIEND,--

  • "If you are not so compassionate as to dine to-day with Louisa and me, we shall be in

  • danger of hating each other for the rest of our lives, for a whole day's tete-a-tete

  • between two women can never end without a quarrel.

  • Come as soon as you can on receipt of this. My brother and the gentlemen are to dine

  • with the officers.--Yours ever,

  • "CAROLINE BINGLEY" "With the officers!" cried Lydia.

  • "I wonder my aunt did not tell us of that." "Dining out," said Mrs. Bennet, "that is

  • very unlucky."

  • "Can I have the carriage?" said Jane. "No, my dear, you had better go on

  • horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and then you must stay all night."

  • "That would be a good scheme," said Elizabeth, "if you were sure that they

  • would not offer to send her home."

  • "Oh! but the gentlemen will have Mr. Bingley's chaise to go to Meryton, and the

  • Hursts have no horses to theirs." "I had much rather go in the coach."

  • "But, my dear, your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure.

  • They are wanted in the farm, Mr. Bennet, are they not?"

  • "They are wanted in the farm much oftener than I can get them."

  • "But if you have got them to-day," said Elizabeth, "my mother's purpose will be

  • answered."

  • She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that the horses were

  • engaged.

  • Jane was therefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to

  • the door with many cheerful prognostics of a bad day.

  • Her hopes were answered; Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard.

  • Her sisters were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted.

  • The rain continued the whole evening without intermission; Jane certainly could

  • not come back.

  • "This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed!" said Mrs. Bennet more than once, as if the

  • credit of making it rain were all her own.

  • Till the next morning, however, she was not aware of all the felicity of her

  • contrivance.

  • Breakfast was scarcely over when a servant from Netherfield brought the following note

  • for Elizabeth: "MY DEAREST LIZZY,--

  • "I find myself very unwell this morning, which, I suppose, is to be imputed to my

  • getting wet through yesterday. My kind friends will not hear of my

  • returning till I am better.

  • They insist also on my seeing Mr. Jones-- therefore do not be alarmed if you should

  • hear of his having been to me--and, excepting a sore throat and headache, there

  • is not much the matter with me.--Yours, etc."

  • "Well, my dear," said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, "if your

  • daughter should have a dangerous fit of illness--if she should die, it would be a

  • comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders."

  • "Oh! I am not afraid of her dying. People do not die of little trifling colds.

  • She will be taken good care of.

  • As long as she stays there, it is all very well.

  • I would go and see her if I could have the carriage."

  • Elizabeth, feeling really anxious, was determined to go to her, though the

  • carriage was not to be had; and as she was no horsewoman, walking was her only

  • alternative.

  • She declared her resolution. "How can you be so silly," cried her

  • mother, "as to think of such a thing, in all this dirt!

  • You will not be fit to be seen when you get there."

  • "I shall be very fit to see Jane--which is all I want."

  • "Is this a hint to me, Lizzy," said her father, "to send for the horses?"

  • "No, indeed, I do not wish to avoid the walk.

  • The distance is nothing when one has a motive; only three miles.

  • I shall be back by dinner."

  • "I admire the activity of your benevolence," observed Mary, "but every

  • impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should

  • always be in proportion to what is required."

  • "We will go as far as Meryton with you," said Catherine and Lydia.

  • Elizabeth accepted their company, and the three young ladies set off together.

  • "If we make haste," said Lydia, as they walked along, "perhaps we may see something

  • of Captain Carter before he goes."

  • In Meryton they parted; the two youngest repaired to the lodgings of one of the

  • officers' wives, and Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field

  • at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and

  • springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last

  • within view of the house, with weary ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing

  • with the warmth of exercise.

  • She was shown into the breakfast-parlour, where all but Jane were assembled, and

  • where her appearance created a great deal of surprise.

  • That she should have walked three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather,

  • and by herself, was almost incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth

  • was convinced that they held her in contempt for it.

  • She was received, however, very politely by them; and in their brother's manners there

  • was something better than politeness; there was good humour and kindness.

  • Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all.

  • The former was divided between admiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given

  • to her complexion, and doubt as to the occasion's justifying her coming so far

  • alone.

  • The latter was thinking only of his breakfast.

  • Her inquiries after her sister were not very favourably answered.

  • Miss Bennet had slept ill, and though up, was very feverish, and not well enough to

  • leave her room.

  • Elizabeth was glad to be taken to her immediately; and Jane, who had only been

  • withheld by the fear of giving alarm or inconvenience from expressing in her note

  • how much she longed for such a visit, was delighted at her entrance.

  • She was not equal, however, to much conversation, and when Miss Bingley left

  • them together, could attempt little besides expressions of gratitude for the

  • extraordinary kindness she was treated with.

  • Elizabeth silently attended her.

  • When breakfast was over they were joined by the sisters; and Elizabeth began to like

  • them herself, when she saw how much affection and solicitude they showed for

  • Jane.

  • The apothecary came, and having examined his patient, said, as might be supposed,

  • that she had caught a violent cold, and that they must endeavour to get the better

  • of it; advised her to return to bed, and promised her some draughts.

  • The advice was followed readily, for the feverish symptoms increased, and her head

  • ached acutely.

  • Elizabeth did not quit her room for a moment; nor were the other ladies often

  • absent; the gentlemen being out, they had, in fact, nothing to do elsewhere.

  • When the clock struck three, Elizabeth felt that she must go, and very unwillingly said

  • so.

  • Miss Bingley offered her the carriage, and she only wanted a little pressing to accept

  • it, when Jane testified such concern in parting with her, that Miss Bingley was

  • obliged to convert the offer of the chaise

  • to an invitation to remain at Netherfield for the present.

  • Elizabeth most thankfully consented, and a servant was dispatched to Longbourn to

  • acquaint the family with her stay and bring back a supply of clothes.

CHAPTER 7

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B1 UK elizabeth bennet jane bingley lydia carriage

Chapter 07 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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    羅致 posted on 2014/06/03
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